Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Supernaturally by Kiersten White (Book Review)

Supernaturally by Kiersten White
Release Date: July 26, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 309
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Special Shelf
Goodreads Page

This is a sequel to Paranormalcy, but there are 
for Paranormalcy in this review!


From Goodreads (spoilers for Paranormalcy. Highlight to read): 

A lot has changed in the six months since Evie escaped from the International Paranormal Containment Agency with her shape-shifter boyfriend, Lend. She finally has the blissfully normal life she’s always dreamed of, including: 

1) A real live high school
2) A perfectly ordinary after-school job
3) Her very own locker (and by the way, rusted metal is every bit as awesome as she imagined)

But Evie’s not-so-normal past keeps creeping up on her...and things get pretty complicated when you factor in: 

1) A centuries-old, seriously decaying vampire stalker
2) A crazy faerie ex-boyfriend who is the perpetual bearer of really bad news
3) A major battle brewing between the faerie courts where the prize in question happens to be...Evie herself.

So much for normal.


"The Buffy mark"

There was a blurb on Supernaturally that said something along the lines of “Comes closer than most to hitting the Buffy mark.” Well, Buffy fanatic that I am, any sort of comparison to Buffy usually sets me off…and not in a good way. Because can anything really come close to the awesomeness of Buffy? I didn’t think so. 

Now Kiersten White is no Joss Whedon. Her humor is completely different and it isn’t really fair to either of them to try to compare Evie to Buffy. They’re just different. Yet, that blurb is totally spot on.

What Joss Whedon managed to do so perfectly that makes Buffy epic was create a show that had incredible humor, but also incredible depth and seriousness. These aspects are then balanced in a way where both complement and enhance one another. THIS is where Kiersten White nails it. This is how she "hits the Buffy mark."

I love these people

Evie is one of the funniest characters I’ve ever met. Just like in Paranormalcy, the first page--heck, the first line--had me laughing. I knew this book would be awesome by that first sentence alone. Evie's the kind of girl who looks at the world, says exactly what I would be thinking, but does it in a way that’s a million times funnier than I could ever dream of being. The best humor is the kind that resonates, and Evie is so utterly relatable. Whenever I read Evie, all I want to do is make her real and have a million sleepover parties together and buy BFF charm necklaces.

She also so gets my high school gym experience.

And yet…beneath all the cute glitter and pink is a deceptively sad story. It might be easy to get wrapped up in the light tone of the book and believe there is no more here than superficial fun, but that would be a mistake. There’s a darkness here that is breathtakingly tragic.

The characters Kiersten White creates are so real and possess such depth. My heart aches for them. Even the Big Bads are complex people with logical reasons for why they act the way they do. If you’re the type of reader who wants villains that transcend the black and white confines of Good vs Evil, then look no further.

Supernaturally gives greater insight into Paranormalcy’s Big Bad while also introducing a new BB to the mix. While they’re both bad, the funny thing is that I feel protective over them. I like them. Yeah, ok, they’re not good people, but I get them. I see where they’re coming from, even if they’re wrong. I want to cry over their completely heartbreaking stories. The best part is that Evie sees it too, and watching her grapple with the confusion this leads to adds the depth of both character and plot that elevates Kiersten White from “good writer” to “superb writer.” 

Middle books are different

I was blown away by Paranormalcy, and while Supernaturally is made of awesome it doesn’t quite hit the same mark Paranormalcy did. The plot of Paranormalcy really grabbed me and took me on a roller coaster of a ride. The impending threat of the Big Bad going around murdering paranormals and the mysterious nature of that BB kept my eyes glued to the pages.

Supernaturally’s Big Bad is a lot more subtle, and, for me, that subtlety lessened my “OHMYBLEEPINGGOSHWE’REALLGOING TODIEEEEE” excitement that I had going with the first book. Don’t get me wrong, the story is still fun and there’s still a mysterious aspect to unravel (which I sadly managed to figure out too soon), but it didn’t have the same edge-of-your-seat feeling that I loved so much.

In some ways Supernaturally is very much a “middle of a trilogy” book, but in this case that isn’t a bad thing. Evie’s life changed completely in Paranormalcy, and Supernaturally shows Evie dealing with all of that fallout. It’s a very character-driven story. Too often major things happen to characters and the impact of those events is glossed over for the sake of advancing the plot. Now, you know me, I have a very short attention span. I want ACTION! So when I say I truly appreciated the time Kiersten White takes here in letting Evie figure everything out, you can be confident that this isn’t a boring filler book.

(To put it in terms Buffy fans will understand, Supernaturally is Buffy’s season six. There isn't really a gigantic Big Bad like in the other seasons. The focus is instead more inward and focuses on the characters themselves. Supernaturally obviously has totally different events, but think the soul searching and character development end of things.)

Unique paranormals (with proper sparkle placement)

There are so many clichés in YA paranormal books right now that complaining about the clichés is practically a cliché in itself. But Kiersten White? I need to create an altar to bow down in front of and give massive thanks for turning paranormal clichés on their heads (but there will be no animal sacrifices at this altar! Will offerings of sparkly things suffice?)

I may need to offer a few sparkly pink taser holsters in penance for ever doubting her, too. Hear me out though, ok? I mean, Paranormalcy was chock full of a whole bunch of paranormals, and they were all totally different from how we’re used to reading about them (noooo pretty vampires here!), but not in ways that are lame (sparkles are for jewelry, not vampires). This was awesome, but I really wasn’t expecting Kiersten to have the imaginative reserves left after all that to create even more unique paranormals and add even more depth to the already established ones. Now having read Supernaturally? Me=IDIOT.

Diana Peterfreund was the sole occupant of my “Authors who make COMPLETELY AWESOME AND ORIGINAL Unicorns” pedestal, but I now need to put in an order for a wider pedestal. Kiersten White is soo getting a spot on it now. I’m not even going to mention the other paranormals so you don’t get spoiled, but I will say this: Reading Kiersten’s books is like taking a stroll through a paranormal amusement park. (That's a good thing). 

Crazy for you

I’m so torn on all of the scenes of peril. I want to go running around screaming in fright, giggle like a seven year old listening to a fart joke (um, still do that), and clap my hands in delight over the new spin on the paranormals. So, uh, Kiersten? Thanks for making me look like a COMPLETE LUNATIC when I read your books in public. Ugh, Readers, take it from me and don’t even try to explain to (non-cool) people why the cloud scene in Supernaturally is made of win. (But, seriously Kiersten, thanks. The reading experience is so worth those weird looks). 

Final proof that Kiersten White is a genius?

The chapter titled "Sparkles Make Everything Better" Yes they do, Kiersten. YES THEY DO!

Bottom line

If you loved Paranormalcy, then I’m certain you’ll love Supernaturally. Luckily I’m tiny so I can hide from you pretty easily if I’m wrong and you try to hunt me down for misleading you. But I don’t think that’ll happen. You definitely have to read Paranormalcy for Supernaturally to make any kind of sense, but Supernaturally ends nicely without any pull-your-hair-out cliffhangers (Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!). I can’t wait for the third (and final *sniff*) book, but that’s because I just want more.

My only complaint is that there isn’t nearly enough Reth and I really wanted to learn more about him. His scenes are wonderful, but too infrequent and riddled with cryptic clues. *Sigh* That is just so like him.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

This book satisfies the following challenges: 

Review for the first book in the series: 


  1. *cracks up* I get those weird looks ALL the time. I've stopped trying to explain a long time ago. I LOOOVED Paranormalcy, so this review is BEYOND reassuring. Thanks so much! I think you hit everything that Kiersten is as a writer, right on the money. Looking forward to reading this next one!

    I didn't know this was a trilogy... How sad. I wanted it to keep going, kinda like Buffy. :)

  2. Weird looks are part of my every day life. I sat on the bus, sobbing like a three year old when I was reading Jellicoe Road, people moved away from me in the bus when I was reading HP5 because I just started to speak in English at random (I live in Mexico City), and so on :P

    Weird looks = totally cool in my book.

    Noooooowwwwww, about your review, I love it. I can't wait to read it and thanks for such thorough analysis of it, and I dig the Buffy analogies-not that I think Evie and Buffy are the same, but you know, it helps me understand.

    And I am a reader who does measure a story in the scale of the villain, and I can't wait to read these BBs.

    *goes look at how many days the pre-order has to go -

    *sigh again*

    Can't wait.

  3. Oh man. I really, really want to read this book now. I was already pretty confident that I wasn't going to be disappointed in Supernaturally - just 'cause I love her writing that much - but you've just sealed the deal. It disappoints me slightly that you say there isn't nearly enough Reth :( because like you, I love scenes with him. AND UNICORNS SOUND FABULOUS. YAY!!! PARANORMAL AMUSEMENT PARK.

    Thanks so much for getting me super duper excited about this book :D

  4. Not even going to lie, before completely reading the review, I skimmed through looking for "RETH." Sadness there wasn't more of him, but I'm glad the book was a good read all the same. I'm excited to pick it up next month. Thanks for the review! :D

  5. Paranormalcy has been sitting on my Kindle for about a year and I will DEFINITELY have to make time to read it now. I LOVED this review, by the way. So fun. And Season six of Buffy was my favorite (Once More With Feeling and Spike...oh man!) so I'm dying to read Supernaturally now. Thank you for this review!

  6. What an exciting review so full of awesomne!!! But I hear you... I also loved it senselessly! I didn't know what I was getting into when I read Paranormalcy and Supernaturally totally lived up to the hype! Evie is sooooo awesome!! Great Review Sweetie!

  7. This review is awesome Small! I am so excited for Supernaturally release is less than a month away. And glad to hear there is no cliffhanger.

    And don't worry about me hunting you down I am pretty sure I am going to love this :)

  8. Wonderful! And you're so lucky you got this book early. I love it when authors don't just follow cliches. Middle books are always a little tricky and it's always hard to follow up a great first book. I'm glad this one comes close to measuring up.

  9. Wow! So glad to know you enjoyed this one so much even if it was quite as good as book 1! I love how you said it's such a great blend of humor and sadness, those are my very favorite types of stories - the ones that play with your emotions and have you laughing and sobering alternately. Awesome review, so excited to read this:)

  10. *must find out what this cloud scene is* Luckily, I'll start reading Supernaturally in about a week. I can't wait to catch up with Evie and the others. I want more Reth too! I'm not a huge faerie fan but I like Reth.

  11. Okay, since it's on your special shelf I know you won't share it with me. Could you get Kiersten to send me one??? I loved Paranormalcy so much!! I loved Tasy and even though I can never remember Lend's name, I thought he was the most unusual paranormal being in paranormal history! What a great imagination! My book can't come fast enough!!

    Great review! Really!! I can't wait for the cloud scene and the Sparkle chapter!


  12. What an awesome review! I love how you break up different sections. Your reviews are always so much fun to read and I love your honesty! Glad to hear this one is good. The first is in my TBR pile...I know, I know I haven't read it yet lol. I guess I started to but wasn't in the mood for some reason. I'll try it again! I promise....and I agree I'm always leery when it comes to comparisons.

  13. "There are so many clichés in YA paranormal books right now that complaining about the clichés is practically a cliché in itself. "

    I had to quote this because it was awesome.

    Back to your review --> Loved it! I (sadly) still need to read Paranormalcy and this makes me want to more... :)


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